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Dec. 10, 2012
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's swimming and diving team continues to build momentum after exceptional dual meet performances that led up to the Georgia Invitational in early December.
Head Coach John Hargis said that he is pleased with how the year has gone so far.
"I think we've done really well. We've shown good progress through the year," Hargis said. "We've shown a good adaptation to the training this year. I think there are still some areas to improve that were glowing when we were down in Georgia racing against the very best."
The swimmers and divers came out with a win against West Virginia for their first dual meet. Then the Nittany Lions stayed home to host Villanova with another easy victory. After that, they traveled to Indiana to take on a top ACC team and another Big Ten contender at the tri meet against Virginia and Indiana. They came up just short of wins against these two schools.
The swimmers and divers did not let that stop them from performing well most recently at the Georgia Invitational in Athens, Ga. The men had one of the best opportunities they have ever seen to race several top ranked teams in the country. They came in fifth against Auburn, Georgia, Harvard, California, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.
"We've been doing really well for both the guys and the girls," Andrew Sideras said. "It's good to be ranked so high because we've been working so hard. We have a lot of new kids that are already making an impact."
The results of the Georgia Invite led to a jump in their ranking in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll (20th).
Hargis said that he tries not to pay too much attention to the rankings but knows what they do during championship season is what really matters.
"I did see them and I think it's a compliment to the program and the kids and the hard work they've put in by being identified by outside people for their hard work," Hargis said. "Ultimately no matter where you're ranked we've got to be ready to swim fast in February and March and I think the kids understand that."
The men finished the Georgia Invite with 15 NCAA B cut performances. The NCAA comes up with two sets of time standards at the beginning of each season called A cuts and B cuts. An A cut guarantees the person a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships in March. The time standards for A cuts are much faster and very few swimmers across the nation reach this standard. At that point, swimmers with B cuts will be selected based on their times from fastest to slowest until the designated number of spots are filled.
Sophomore Nick Ankosko was among those who raced past the NCAA B time standards in the 500 free and 1,650 free.
"These B cuts mean a lot to me," Ankosko said. "It's a relief to have gotten two cuts out of the way at this point in the season. Now I can focus more on moving closer to getting my A cuts at the end of the season."
Ankosko has also faced changes in his training this year, but is excited to see these changes pay off in his racing.
"I have been really happy with how this season has gone for me so far," Ankosko said. "The coaches have me trying a type of training that is different than what I'm used to and I feel it has been working great for me in meets."
Hargis has enjoyed watching the swimmers succeed and working together as a team, but is also eager to continue working on the weaknesses to end the rest of the season strong.
"Seeing them really relate to their teammates and get behind them and really bond as a team has been fun to watch," Hargis said. "Seeing the rewards of their work each time we race was exciting. We will continue to make the proper adjustments that we have to make and continue to train at a level that is in relation to the goals that the kids have in front of them."
With a successful start to their season, the men will continue to put in the work that they've been putting in all year. The swimmers will have the opportunity to do this at their annual training trip in Naples, Fla. starting Dec. 28 and ending Jan. 5. While they are there, they will take on the North Carolina on Jan. 3 in a dual meet. The divers will compete in Knoxville, Tenn. Jan. 3-5 for the Tennessee Collegiate Diving Invitational.